Electrical and Electronics Drafters Overview
Overall, employment for electrical and electronics drafters is expected to grow at a slower than average rate, however demand will depend on the needs of local industry. Individuals with at least 2 years of postsecondary drafting training should find the best opportunities.
Nature of the Work for Electrical and Electronics Drafters
Drafters are responsible for creating drawings and plans that construction and production workers can then use to build products or buildings.
Drawings from electrical and electronics drafters offer visual guidelines for constructing a product or structure. Included are technical details, dimensions, materials and procedures. Electrical and electronics drafters must fill in specifications and calculations made by scientists, architects, engineers and surveyors. An understanding of engineering, standardized building techniques and manufacturing theory can help electrical and electronics drafters add in details. Technical handbooks, computers, tables and calculators all help electrical and electronics drafters on the job.
Most electrical and electronics drafters use Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) systems to prepare drawing. Some may be called CADD operators, but drafters use the systems to create drawings electronically so they may be programmed in automated manufacturing systems and to create variations on a design quickly. Despite extensive CADD use, electrical and electronics drafters still need traditional drafting knowledge to explain and understand concepts.
Specifically, electrical drafters create wiring and layout diagrams for workers responsible for installing, erecting and repairing electrical equipment and wiring. The work may occur in buildings, communications centers, electrical distribution systems and power plants.
Electronics drafters create wiring diagrams as well as schematics, layout drawings and circuit board assembly diagrams that are used in the repair, installation and manufacture of electronic components and devices.
Typically, electrical and electronics drafters work in office environments. Because they log many hours in front of the computer, back discomfort, hand and wrist problems and eyestrain are all common. A 40-hour workweek is standard.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Electrical and Electronics Drafters
Employers look for electrical and electronics drafters who have completed at least 2 years of postsecondary drafting training at a technical school, community college or 4-year college or university. Well-developed mechanical drawing and drafting skills, a solid CADD background and knowledge of drafting standards, science, engineering technology and mathematics will give electrical and electronics drafters the greatest advantage in the job market.
Programs at technical institutes offer intensive technical training and result in either a certificate or a 2-year associate degree. Training for electrical and electronics drafters includes learning how to depict circuits and electronic components through drawings.
Community colleges include more drafting theory classes as well as general education requirements. Plus, electrical and electronics drafters in these programs are more likely to be able to transfer their credits to a 4-year institution later if they wish to earn a related bachelor’s degree in architecture, engineering or mathematics.
Visual aptitude and mechanical ability are important for electrical and electronics drafters. In addition, they must have good drawing and interpersonal skills, along with the ability to perform detailed work accurately.
The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) has established a drafting certification program. Employers don’t require certification for electrical and electronics drafters, but it does add credibility of knowledge and understanding of practices. For certification electrical and electronics drafters must pass a test covering basic drafting concepts, architectural terms and standard, working drawing and geometric construction.
Starting out, electrical and electronics drafters are junior drafters working under close supervision. They later become intermediate drafters with experience. At that level they can exercise more judgments, modify drawings and perform calculations. Eventually they may advance to become senior drafters, designers or supervisors. Employers often cover continuing education and with a college degree, drafters may become engineers, engineering technicians or architects.
Employment and Job Outlook for Electrical and Electronics Drafters
About 251,900 drafters are working, but electrical and electronics drafters only make up 13 percent of that number. Overall, employment of drafters is expected to grow by only 4 percent and electrical and electronics drafters should see little to no growth. This is partly because many jobs are in slow-growing or declining manufacturing industries. But as increasingly complex design problems need to be solved for new products and manufacturing processes, electrical and electronics drafters will be required in engineering and drafting services firms.
CADD systems, while great for making drafting more powerful and easier, also allow other technical professionals to do the work of drafters. Plus, some drafting work can be outsourced to offshore countries because CADD files can be sent online.
Individuals with at least 2 years of postsecondary training in drafting, strong technical skills and CADD experience will find the best opportunities. With advancing technology, employers will favor electrical and electronics drafters with a high level of technical sophistication, a strong background in fundamental drafting principles and the ability to work across a broad range of responsibilities. Most job openings will arise due to workers retiring or leaving the industry.
Many of the jobs for electrical and electronics drafters are sensitive to cyclical economical changes as they’re in construction and manufacturing. For this reason, electrical and electronics drafters may be laid off during recessions. That said, more and more companies are hiring contract or temporary electrical and electronics drafters.
Earnings and Salary for Electrical and Electronics Drafters
Median annual wages for electrical and electronics drafters are $52,080. The highest 10 percent earned above $80,960, the lowest 10 percent earned under $33,140 and the middle 50 percent earned between $41,190 and $66,280. Wages for electrical and electronics drafters in architectural, engineering and related services were $47,910.